By VICTOR SL TAN
Doing one’s best simply means doing something to the best of one’s ability. However, I would prefer to define it more specifically as the total engagement of one’s attention, knowledge, skills, experience, creativity, time and effort to the task at hand to achieve the best possible outcome one is capable of.
The world would be a much more productive and better place if only people did their best. However, the reality is that over 98% of the people do not give their best.
Having consulted for over 500 Asian organisations and trained over 500,000 people in Asia to date, I have personally observed that there are many reasons why people do not give their best. The following are some of the main reasons: · They have little confidence of their own talents and skills.
· They do not fully utilise the knowledge, skills and experience they have.
· They do not explore and stretch the potential possibilities within themselves.
· They are not motivated or inspired.
· They feel they will be punished with more work.
· The recognition and reward system does not take their efforts into consideration.
Bringing out the best in people
According to recent Hay Group research findings, companies whose employees are highly engaged, outperform firms with the most disengaged staff by 54% in employee retention, by 89% in customer satisfaction and 400% in revenue growth.
These statistics should prove to top management the strategic importance of the role in bringing out the best in people in their organisations.
There are many things leaders can do to bring out the best in their people. For those who lack confidence in their own ability, leaders should inspire them to explore and apply their existing talent to achieve more.
For those with talent but without an outlet to utilise them, leaders can create opportunities to apply themselves better.
On the other hand, I know of very competent people in the workplace who try to keep their talent hidden because they are afraid that when their bosses are aware of their capabilities, they might overload them with more work and responsibilities.
Here lies the wisdom and restraint leaders must have to avoid creating such a situation. Of course it is convenient to give to those who are able and willing to do more and more work.
However, if this situation continues, the person overloaded with work will soon become demoralised and those who are competent will be afraid to come forward to show their talent.
The solution is to develop more people with the relevant skills so that work can be spread out fairly.
In the haste and chase digital era of today, leaders often forget the basic fundamentals of creating an engaging workplace. Here are some of them: · Provide meaningful work that people can relate to its significance to the organisation’s vision and mission.
· Allow autonomy for people to decide on the ways to get things done based on the desired outcome.
· Assign tasks with different complexity and responsibility, requiring different skills, knowledge and experience.
· Distribute work fairly.
· Give regular feedback on how people are doing in their work.
· Create a work environment for people to connect with their leaders, colleagues, customers and other stakeholders.
· Encourage collaboration, teamwork and sharing of ideas.
· Develop staff through implementing career paths and succession planning.
The ultimate in getting the best out of people lies in recognising and rewarding talent and achievements.
The fastest way to dampen talent is when leaders reward everyone the same across the board irrespective of their contribution and results.
While it may be challenging to keep track of individual performance, it is well worth the effort as it is only through fair recognition and rewards, can best performance be sustained.
The value of doing your best
There is a common saying, “You can take the horse to a river but you cannot force it to drink”.
Well, the right approach is to take the horse for a ride out in the hot sun and then lead it to the river. Driven by its own thirst, it will then want to drink. Likewise, we cannot force people to do the things we want done. We need to find a way for people to want to do them.
The reason many people do not want to do their best is because they do not see its value for themselves except for what is good for their bosses or companies.
Leaders must persuade and convince the staff of the benefits that arise from doing one’s best. Here are some of them: · Doing your best may help you edge ahead of others and be the first person in your superior’s mind should the opportunity for a promotion arise.
· Doing your best is therapeutic because you feel great and not guilty that you have performed less than your best.
· Doing your best gives you the sense of pride and personal satisfaction which increases your self-esteem and well-being.
· Doing your best justifies the talent, qualifications, knowledge, skills and experience you have.
· Doing your best resonates and fulfills the ultimate needs of human – self actualisation. Often in the workplace, we face great challenges that call for nothing less than the very best of us to resolve the problems of the day.
A lot of people spend a lot of time worrying about the problems they are going to face tomorrow. In fact, the best preparation one can do for tomorrow is to do your best today.
If we do our best to resolve the problems of today, there will be no bringing forward of today’s problems and tomorrow will take care of itself.
The great writer, Earl Nightingale said it best:
“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”
Indeed we truly feel whole and complete when we do our best at work and in life. It is when we continuously do our best that we eventually reach the point of being the best in our area of work.
In this respect, allow me to share one of my favourite poems which I wrote and which appears in my book, The Secret of Change.
Choose to be the best
In a field to better than the rest.
Believe it to be a worthwhile conquest.
Be willing to take the test –
Endure the stress.
When you are hard-pressed,
Discipline yourself at the work desk;
Do whatever it takes to achieve progress,
Take it all as part of a contest.
In the journey to achieve success,
Being the best is not what you profess;
The true mark is when others attest.
To be the best,
Have a passion on a quest:
Which you work with zest,
Where every motion is a fest,
Every moment a great fun no less.
In the process to reach the crest,
It is not working without rest,
Or engaging others in wrest.
Remember how to de-stress –
Laugh often and indulge in jest.
At work, put in some jazz,
Whistle to the beat to achieve your best.
Incidentally by just focusing on doing my best in writing, this book, The Secret of Change, got into the Malaysia Book of Records as the first motivational book in poem.
By doing our best, we stretch our talents and capabilities to the fullest which will eventually win us the recognition and merits we deserve.
But more importantly, by doing our best, we ensure that we are not short-changing ourselves as we are maximising our potential and hence increasing our chance of greater accomplishments, recognition and fulfillment in our path towards self-actualisation.